What to Expect

What to Expect on the Day of Your Surgery

In the Pre-op Area

When you first arrive for your surgery, a nurse will greet you in the pre-op area, where you’ll need to answer a few questions and prepare for your procedure. Some of the things you will be asked to do include:

  • Verify your name, allergies, birth date, and surgeon
  • Remove all clothing, such as undergarments or jewelry
  • Put on a hospital gown and lie down on a gurney
  • Review the last time you ate or drank anything and what medications you’ve taken that day
  • Have the nurse take your vital signs and start an IV
  • Verify and sign consent forms
  • Have the nurse prepare the area of your body where the surgery will take place, if the surgeon requests it
  • Meet with your anesthesiologist and your surgical nurse so they can answer any questions you may have
  • Use the restroom prior to going into the surgical suite

In the Surgical Suite

When you arrive in the surgical suite, you will meet your surgical team, including your surgeon, anesthesiologist, scrub assistant, circulating nurse, and surgical assistant. Everyone will have gowns, masks, hair coverings, and gloves on to keep the environment as sterile as possible. Some other things you may experience in the surgical suite include:

  • Bright lights and cool air in the room
  • A nurse moving you from the gurney to the surgical table and securing a safety strap around you
  • The placement of monitors on your body so nurses and doctors can watch your vital signs during surgery
  • Verification of the surgical procedure you will undergo
  • Administration of medications by the anesthesiologist to make you relaxed and comfortable during your surgery

In the Recovery Room

After your surgery, the hospital staff will move you to a recovery room where they will care for you while you recuperate. The hospital does not allow families to visit while in the recovery room. However, if you are waiting for a hospital room for an extended period of time, the hospital will allow your family members to visit one at a time, for 15 minutes every hour. Once in the recovery room, some of the things you may experience include:

  • Having the nurse administer oxygen, drain the incision site, or use a tube (catheter) to drain urine
  • A nurse monitoring your vital signs and surgical site
  • A nurse administering medications for side effects or to provide you with pain relief
  • Side effects from local or regional anesthesia, such as numbness, tingling, nausea, backache, or headache
  • Side effects from general anesthesia, such as fatigue, nausea, thirst, shivering, memory lapses, a sore throat, or sore jaw
  • Noises that may seem louder at first
  • Labs and x-rays
  • Exercises to help prevent complications and speed up your recovery, such as deep breathing, coughing, and moving your hands and feet

Download the Post Anesthesia Care Unit Handout for information useful to families/significant others with a loved one in the post anesthesia care unit.

Your Discharge from Surgery

Once you are able, your doctor will discharge you from the recovery room and send you to a hospital room. If you are an outpatient who doesn’t require a hospital stay, your doctor will transfer you to the phase 2 side of the recovery room, where the hospital staff will prepare you for discharge.